VICKSBURG, Miss. (April 23, 2019) – From junior high students to researchers and even the Mayor of the City of Vicksburg, a crowd gathered at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center on Tuesday, April 23 to celebrate Earth Day 2019.
“At ERDC, we do the research and development to support our environment,” ERDC Director Dr. David Pittman said during his opening remarks. “We help understand, predict, and shape the world around us—everything on this Earth.”
The theme of the event this year was “protecting our species”, and students and visitors experienced some hands-on learning with demonstrations from the National Park Service, Central Mississippi Turtle Rescue, the Bean Parlor, ERDC researchers, and other exhibitors set up in the headquarters atrium.
Cynthia Banks, who has been working for about six months to organization the celebration, knew the event would be a hit when she learned about the theme.
“I thought it would be wonderful to have an ERDC-wide Earth Day celebration, particularly when I found out the theme was protecting our species,” Banks said. “ERDC does so much research and development related to that, I knew it would be a great idea to have something to really recognize it this year.”
“I was definitely excited to come here,” said Academy of Innovation 8th grader Hannah Hughes, who got the chance to hold a boa constrictor named Bimbo at one of the exhibits. “I’m very interested to learn about native and invasive species and how they impact our world. We need to protect them and our environment, and I’ve enjoyed learning about that here.”
During his keynote address, endangered species biologist Paul Hartfield with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spoke about the Lower Mississippi River and the work with flood protection and efficient navigation, as well as recovery and protection of endangered species.
“Challenges remain, but it can be done,” Hartfield told the students. “You’ll be the ones doing this work in the future.”
But until then, Dr. Pittman reminded the crowd, it’s one of the responsibilities of those at ERDC, saying, “Our commitment to protect, sustain, and improve the environment is vital to our mission to discover, develop, and deliver new ways to make the world safer and better every day.”